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"Here, I have a more suitable gun for you. You'll need it—Catch!"
Father Grigori[src]

The SPAS-12, is a powerful pump-action shotgun that fires buckshot in a cone-shaped pattern. Primarily used by the HECU and the Combine, and sometimes carried by the Resistance as well, it is used by most playable characters from the Half-Life games' story arc.



Freeman and his SPAS-12.

The SPAS-12 has two fire modes. The first one fires multiple pellets with a medium-sized spread, uses one shell, and has a small delay between shots. The alternate fire mode fires double the amount of pellets in a larger, less tight spread and uses two shells, but has a longer delay between shots.

The SPAS-12 is reloaded one shell at a time. The reloading process can be interrupted at any time by pressing the fire key. This weapon is commonly used by the HECU, who often have one or two soldiers armed with shotguns mixed with ones wielding MP5s.

In Half-Life, the SPAS-12 is first acquired in the game's fourth chapter, Office Complex, at the end of a hallway. If not found there, it can be found scattered throughout the rest of the chapter. After Freeman is captured, and his weapons confiscated, the SPAS-12 can be obtained by killing a SPAS-12 wielding HECU soldier at the start of the chapter Questionable Ethics.

In Opposing Force, it is first acquired in the chapter Welcome to Black Mesa, found next to a dead HECU marine and a Vortigaunt.

In Blue Shift, it is first acquired in the chapter Duty Calls, next to a dead Scientist.

In Half-Life 2, the SPAS-12 is first given to Freeman by Father Grigori in the sixth Half-Life 2 chapter "We Don't Go To Ravenholm...". This weapon is used by both Rebels and Overwatch Soldiers, who have a different uniform than regular soldiers. After the chapter Entanglement, Kleiner greets Alyx and Gordon with a SPAS-12, mirroring a scene from Half-Life.

In Episode One, the SPAS-12 is found in the chapter Lowlife, along with the USP Match. In the Hospital, Alyx picks up a SPAS-12 that she effectively uses against opponents. Just like with her gun, it appears to have unlimited ammo.

In Episode Two, it is found in the chapter To The White Forest, while trekking through the Victory Mine.


  • The SPAS-12 is very effective at close range against most targets, but its effectiveness decreases significantly with range because its pellets spread more the farther they go. The primary fire is effective against weak enemies, such as Headcrabs, Zombies, and Vortigaunts. However, the primary fire mode falters against stronger enemies, such as the Bullsquid, because of the low damage output and the small delay between shots.
    • Due to the spread, it is actually more effective to aim for the center-of-mass at longer ranges, as the pellets are more likely to hit the target. At close range, a point-blank headshot will, more often than not, result in a one-shot kill.
  • The SPAS-12's alternate fire is one of the most powerful attacks the player can use. In Half-Life, in Normal mode, it can kill any enemy up to a HECU soldier in one hit, as long as around six pellets connect. The alternate fire also does heavy damage against the Alien Grunt, but the long delay between shots makes the player very vulnerable to counter-attacks, especially while being close to the enemy. Due to this, it advised to switch to another weapon to finish off weakened targets.
    • However, in Half-Life: Source, one useful trick is to use quick switch directly after each shot, thus skipping the pump mechanism, which increases the rate of fire. However, this trick also eats up the ammo very quickly, which forces the player to reload when faced against large groups of enemies.
  • The only enemy that the SPAS-12 does poorly against is the Alien Controller. At the various ranges the Alien Controller can be at, most of the SPAS-12's pellets will miss the creature due to its spread, no matter what firing mode is used. However, most players would already have other, much more effective weapons against it such as the Crossbow, the Sniper Rifle, or even a Pistol.
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An Overwatch Soldier running towards Freeman with his shotgun at Bridge Point.

  • Reloading must be made as often as possible, as an empty SPAS-12 magazine takes much longer to reload than other weapons. A common tactic when using the SPAS-12 is to reload every two or three shots if possible to avoid the long reload time. However, this is generally not recommended if multiple enemies are at close range.
  • In Deathmatch gameplay of Half-Life, one shot only fires two-thirds pellets, but each bullet causes four times as much damage.
  • In Half-Life 2, the SPAS-12 has much less ammo in reserve and a lower magazine capacity. However, it deals higher damage, and the secondary attack has a higher firing rate than in Half-Life. Thus, it more effective against most lone enemies. Also, a box of shotgun shells restores 20 shells instead of 12 and is far more common to find, making it more worthwhile to use. SPAS-12s found on the ground or dropped by Overwatch Soldiers supply a full magazine of 6 rounds, and boxes of ammo contain a staggering 20 shells. Two boxes of ammo can fully resupply even an empty SPAS-12 with some shells to spare. It is even possible to carry the box with a Gravity Gun to refill ammo whenever needed, as long as the reserve ammo count is 30. Generally, should the player run low on shotgun ammo, it's very likely that a Supply Crate will give the player ammo for shotguns. Therefore, running out of ammo for shotgun is very unlikely unless on early chapters.
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Alyx wielding a SPAS-12 in the Hospital.

  • The SPAS-12 is a very good weapon when dealing with Zombies of nearly any type, and their Headcrab counterparts can be dispatched very quickly, easily, and safely with the SPAS-12. Even if only a few pellets hit a Headcrab, their combined damage should be more than enough to kill it. However, when fighting a Poison Zombie, the player should be aware of the environment, strafing constantly as well as making sure that the shotgun is fully loaded, given that the high health of this zombie, combined with three Poison Headcrabs, makes it dangerous even for SPAS-12 users.
    • When dealing with Zombies, the player should aim for the head to avoid fighting the Headcrab; a double shot is the guaranteed kill. As long as the "killing shot" is aimed at the head, the Headcrab should die.
  • It may be desirable to enter a firefight with the SPAS-12 and, once the supply of shells has been exhausted, switch to a backup weapon instead of reloading.
  • The SPAS-12 is the most effective weapon against Antlions, even at some distance, due to their size being larger than most other enemies.

Behind the scenes

Gordon Facebook

Shotgun-wielding Gordon Freeman given on Valve's Facebook page for GameSpot's All Time Greatest Video Game Hero.

  • Early Half-Life footage showed that the SPAS-12 had a completely different skin that was white. All traces of the old skin were removed except for the shotgun used by the scientist at Sector F Lambda Complex's Level A, which still uses that old skin.
  • The SPAS-12 in the leaked Half-Life 2 Beta has a completely different model and completely different firing sounds. The sounds can still be found in retail sound files. The model appears in the E3 2004 trailer and in the retail game files as a "DirectX 7" model, although its textures are missing.
  • The retail Half-Life Spas-12 has a cut idle animation, in which fidgets a shotgun shell around in his fingers.



  • Although the standard shotgun weapon model is a SPAS-12, the weapon icon in the HUD depicts a different model of shotgun (an Ithaca 37). The Half-Life High Definition Pack remedies this by replacing the icon and making it look like a real SPAS-12.
  • Although the SPAS-12 can switch between pump-action and semi-automatic modes, only the player uses the pump-action, while the HECU uses the semi-automatic, and Half-Life 2 NPCs can use both semi-automatic and pump-action. It is impossible for the player to switch modes in-game.
  • On both the original and the HD version, the playable character erroneously inserts the shells through the heat shield rather than the actual loading port located behind it.
  • When the SPAS-12 is used by NPCs, they will reload all the shells at once.
  • HECU soldiers can fire the SPAS-12 in semi-automatic mode; they fire it even faster in Half-Life: Source.
  • In real life, the SPAS-12 cannot fire two shots simultaneously, as it only has one barrel.
  • In reality, a more appropriate shotgun for a USMC unit would be the Remington 870, since the SPAS-12 is not used in military service in the United States.
  • The ammo box for the SPAS-12 contains 13 shells; however, the player will only get 12 of them. The reasoning behind this may be because the shell outside of the box appears to have been spent in both the original and HD Pack (though this is much more evident in the HD Pack.)
  • There was previously a bug in Half-Life and its expansion packs (but not in Half-Life: Day One), where the pumping sound would not be played if the player held down the firing button for successive shots; they needed to release the button between shots in order to hear it. This was fixed in 2019 for most games, but the bug is still present in Half-Life: Source.

Half-Life 2

  • In Episode One, the firing animation for the female NPCs is changed. They fire their shotgun from the hip, increasing the rate of fire; while the male NPCs will fire in the same way as in Half-Life 2. The reload animation is also changed, NPCs pump the shotgun in the air after putting in a shell, although they cannot do this while moving. In Half-Life 2, the Resistance NPCs will fire their shotgun from the shoulder with a much slower pumping rate; thus, they are incapable of defending themselves while attacked by enemies that use automatic weapons at close range, since the Resistance NPCs will have to aim first before firing, during this process, if they are attacked, they are unable to shoot the shotgun and will have to re-aim again. Unless when firing on move. This is removed in Episode One and Episode Two as female NPCs can fire their shotgun instantly without aiming. Furthermore, this firing animation is also applied in updated Half-Life 2 although the female NPCs will still re-aim when attacked.
    • Before an update, Alyx and Barney were the only NPCs unable to fire the SPAS-12 while moving; they could only fire when stationary. And as result, they would often be overwhelmed by enemies easily. After the update, Alyx is able to use the SPAS-12 effectively. However Barney remains unable to fire while moving.
  • NPCs appear to use the SPAS-12 semi-automatically when moving, as there is no pumping sound between shots, and the rate of fire seems to be slightly higher than the player's shotgun. Also, a Combine soldier only fires five shells before they reload.
    • NPCs only use the pump-action mode for the SPAS-12 when they are standing still. Additionally, their firing rate is slower than the player's when used this way. Except female NPCs who can still fire little faster than the player's SPAS-12.
    • In Episode One, Rebel NPCs are given a pumping sound.
  • Due to its short range, NPCs using the SPAS-12 can be rather aggressive as they will always charge towards their targets, regardless of how dangerous the situation is. Furthermore, when charging, they will always have an advantage against NPCs armed with better ranged but weaker weapons, especially if they fire the shotgun in semi-automatic mode. Therefore, Combine Soldiers are usually overpowered at close range and may even be able to kill high health targets, like Alyx, in just a few shots. Vice versa, Rebel NPCs armed with this weapon can often often go rogue and disobey to follow the player occasionally as well.
    • If the Rebels are unable to get close to their enemies, they will usually take a few seconds before shooting. Combine Soldiers however, will either hide behind a wall and ignore the target or simply crouch without shooting.
  • Even though many Overwatch Soldiers and some rebels use the SPAS-12, Freeman is the only one who fires the shotgun with the alternative firing mode.
  • The Nova Prospekt Prison Guards seem to use the SPAS-12 more frequently than normal Overwatch Soldiers, perhaps due to the shorter combat ranges and therefore enhanced shotgun effectiveness.
  • As with the Half-Life version, artwork for the shotgun often depicts Gordon Freeman with it, making it the only weapon besides the crowbar he is depicted with in concept art.
  • It is possible to alter the number of pellets in the shell used by SPAS-12, via the console command "sk_plr_num_shotgun_pellets #"
    • By default, each shell contains 7 pellets.
  • While the NPCs reload the SPAS-12 all at once, the player must reload one shell at a time.
    • Like in the original Half-Life, Gordon erroneously inserts the shells through the heat shield instead of the loading port.
  • In Episode One, when Alyx takes a SPAS-12, she will take the furthest shotgun (from right to left) in the rack, and this SPAS-12 will always be unobtainable for the player, given that it is, essentially, just a prop to be used by NPCs.
  • When Gordon doesn't fully empty the shotgun, he doesn't pump the shotgun because a round is already chambered.


  • The SPAS-12 has 2 firing modes in real life, semi-automatic and pump-action.





Half-Life 2



List of appearances


The Half-Life Wiki has more images related to SPAS-12.
The Half-Life Wiki has more images related to SPAS-12.

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